Monday, December 8, 2008
In all my years as an author--and I just finished #36, so I've been doing this for a while--I've never written a Christmas story before. But I finally got that opportunity with this month's release, Kansas City Christmas. It's the fourth and final book in my bestselling Precinct: Brotherhood of the Badge miniseries for Harlequin Intrigue. I've always wanted to do a story set in Kansas City at Christmas time because it's such a beautiful city at that time of year--let me tell you, the folks down on the Plaza have known for decades about how to decorate up a fancy party for the holidays.
I'm sharing some pictures from the Plaza area, just south of downtown Kansas City. The J.C. Nichols Plaza was one of the very first shopping "mall" districts in the U.S., if not the first. It is designed with striking Mediterranean style architecture, and bears a resemblance to Paris, France with its many public fountains, bridges, walkways, sculptures and works of art. You'll find many nationallly and internationally famous stores there, as well as some classy boutiques and specialty shops. Plus, it's a mecca for entertainment, playing home to theaters and a wide variety of restaurants from top notch elegance to eat with your fingers casual dining--including, imho, the best barbecue place on the planet!
While it's truly a beautiful city any time of the year, come the holidays, Kansas City does it up right. With well over a million lights, the Plaza is lit up every year on Thanksgiving evening, giving the place an ethereal holidy glow. Every rooftop and and building is lit up with a string of lights (that stay up year round--whew! maintenance is time-consuming enough--can you imagine that project of taking down and putting up that many lights every year?). The lights then are on every night throughout the holidays. Stores stay open late and, of course, you can enjoy the nightlife of entertainment, or take carriage rides (they even have a Cinderella pumpkin carriage for the most romantic of you). You can enjoy it simply by bundling up and walking the wide sidewalks and checking out the amazing store window displays, then step inside for a hot toddy or cup of cocoa. Yum.
So, like I said, Kansas City Christmas is my first Christmas themed novel of romantic suspense. And, because the Plaza and the lights are so much a part of what I associate with the season, I made a point of having my characters, Det. Edward Rochester Kincaid and M.E. Dr. Holly Masterson, stop down on the Plaza. Edward has a real thing against Christmas because of traumatic events in his life--he's a dark and tortured hero if you like the type. Holly, on the other hand, sees Christmas as a way to celebrate life and honor her family (she's endured some trauma, too). This isn't just a story about finally catching the bad guys and healing a wounded family, it's about discovering the power of love and the strength it sometimes takes to love again.
In my family, besides the Plaza, Christmas decorations are a big deal. My mother has a Santa Claus room, decorated for Christmas year round with just about every type of Santa and Christmas ornament--including some rare antiques and handmade ones from kids and grandkids. My hubby has a Star Trek tree. As long as we've been married, his November birthday has been easy to buy for--he wants whatever Star Trek ornament Hallmark is releasing that year. Now we've gotten so many space ships and Tribbles and captains, that we had to get him a tree of his own. Growing up, too, I was allergic to pines and other Christmas trees, so my dad built a Scandinavian cross-bar tree with hooks for all the ornaments. My mom and brothers and I decorated it with paint and ribbon, and over the years it has truly become a work of art. It stays up in the Santa Claus room year-round, too. It'd be sort of like taking down all those Plaza lights if we tried to change it.
So what do holiday decorations mean to you? Autumn colors at Thanksgiving? Lights at Hanukkah? Colorful presents under the tree? A special collection of ornaments? A neighborhood competition to see who can use the most wattage and electricity? A special town or neighborhood?
I hope you enjoy Kansas City Christmas and the rest of my Brotherhood of the Badge books from Harlequin. And I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday season, decorated just the way you like it!